Thank you for your stories, our survey results are here! We’ve shared some of the questions and responses below and will be adding more when we get them. We’re still exploring the issue of racism in Vermont and are continuing to collect survey results below. Many expressed interest in viewing the responses of others in order to learn about ways the Vermont community can eliminate racism.
Do you have an experience involving racism that you would like to share?
“People use slurs a lot, without realizing what they are saying and who they can be offending. This is seen a lot with popular culture and the N-word today and white kids think it is a cool thing to say, when it is not.”
“Racial micro aggressions happen every moment of the day in Vermont, primarily because we are all socialized to believe in white supremacy — as hard as it is to admit…and even say. That belief system is deeply rooted in the minds of most Vermonters…and desperately needs to be un-learned. This mindset impacts our attitudes, assumptions, and expectations of people of color…and strips them of opportunities for reaching their fullest potential.”
“Racism is alive and well in Vermont.”
“I think most white people have no idea that acts of racism can occur completely unknowingly and unintentionally.”
“I live in Brattleboro and I went to the COOP the other day and the cashier asked me if I was going to pay with food stamps. I have asked many of my (white) friends who go to the coop very often if for any reason somebody ask them the same question. They all told they never have been ask that question.”
“We are all part of the problem because racism runs so deep in the systems that connect us.”
“My son’s friend “answer a Facebook question about my son” the question was: What would you change in Jose (jose is my son) if you could? My son’s friend answer was: I would change Jose’s ethnicity and language”
“‘KKK’ was scratched into the door of the passageway from the transit center to Center Street in Rutland several months ago. The is a heavily used passage.”
“My husband, a Southeast Asian immigrant, was called, “boy” by a white man in the Brattleboro area when he went to pick up his car that had been repaired.”
“Ignorant behaviors that are hostile to people of color like selling Native American mascot regalia at downtown stores.”
“Migrant workers from Mexico and other people of color have been racially profiled while in cars throughout Vermont.”
“People of color experience racism every day at both inter-personal and institutional levels.”
“I work with youth, primarily middle-schoolers, who yell racial names at one another on a daily basis. They have become so immune to the words of hate that they don’t realize how hurtful they are nor the consequences of their actions.”
“Vermont being such a ‘white’ state lacks a lot of diversity and there is a lack of experience with different cultures.”
“I am a white woman who raised two biracial kids in Vermont- people make instant judgements about who you are and what you are worth based solely on skin color, and feel at liberty to ask very invasive and disrespectful questions.”
“My children both began experiencing racism as soon as they started school and it hasn’t let up since.”
“Most racism begins when children begin to learn that racist and prejudice jokes are funny. Those racist jokes turn into actual thoughts and actions. Racism is also a major problem in respect to a lack of education and understanding of other cultures.”
“In the grocery store, someone asked my white mother when she “got” my black sister and when she would be going back. The assumption was that she was a fresh-air kid and not a member of our family.”
“My sister was followed closely around Michael Kehoe when we were in there to buy a tie.”
“I am white. People frequently assume that my daughter (who is black) is my sister’s child (she is black), not mine.”
“The use of the N-word is still frequently used. I can’t begin to explain how damaging this is.”
“Several years ago, when I was looking for housing. I, as a single mother w/a bi-racial daughter was denied housing after the owner met my daughter. I had met the owner by myself and when I returned to drop off my deposit w/my very young bi-racial daughter, they questioned where her father was and stated they didn’t want any trouble from him. Not sure why they said that since he lived out of state and they never met him. They called later and said they were not going to rent to us based on my one income! Clearly their facial expressions told me they were shocked when they saw my daughter, and it was convenient to say they were not going to rent to me because I was the only source of income.”
“There is racism everywhere, but I think that in general Burlington is a very accepting environment especially when compared to other places I have lived.”
“Once on my way back from Islamic society of Vermont board meeting late at night ( around 11 pm ). I was followed by a state trooper starting by saint Michael’s college all the way on the highway 89 south by exit 14, ( I checked on my seat belts mirrors , speed limit etc Just to make sure that I was following the law ) eventually got stopped by exit 14. The trooper approached on the passenger side of my car and knocked on the window. I gave him the drivers license etc, then asked him why I was being stopped . the only response was ,” sit tight” and I will be right back. He came back and handed back my license etc. I asked him again what the problem was and he replied that it was just a routine check. I have never heard of such a thing. The only thing I can think of is , he had screened my plates and my name came up so he wanted to make sure that I am not some kind of illegal immigrant ( I had a green card at that time ) . I felt helpless and angry but did not want to get into an argument with the trooper.”
What do you think is the most effective way to address racism in Vermont?
“Start at a young age, with education about different cultures and tolerance.”
“With the refugee program I think there has been a concerning shift in the treatment and acceptance of persons of color. Education and accommodations are the first step.”
“Education in schools and programs that celebrate diversity. There is not a lot of diversity in Vermont so it is often overlooked and then people grow up with racist tendencies even when they think they are not racist.”
“I think the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Ten Ways to Fight Hate” is good.”
“Ongoing antiracism trainings for communities: churches, libraries, book clubs, community groups and more. Required antiracism courses for city officials, Vermont state government employees, all teachers and administrators.”
“Begin cultural studies early in schools.”
“In general America needs more interaction with the wider world on a personal level to dispel racism. Education on these issues must be a priority.”
“Educate leaders so they own it and talk about it.”
“Community involvement and Diversity Education in Vermont Schools.”
“Anti-racist/”People’s History” curriculum in schools (e.g. history of Native American people in Vermont).”
“Monitor racial profiling by police and make them accountable.”
“Constant educational work, coupled with strong public policy especially in the educational and social service sectors.”
“Raising awareness by celebrating differences as we work toward common goals-community building.”
“I think VT really addresses racism directly and respectfully. Vermont clearly tries to eradicate racial issues and concerns. The dialogue is constantly on going and many people are willing and open to the dialogue. Creating and supporting communities that address racism on this level will always be important.”
“Participate in more multicultural events, like celebrations on MLK Day for example, and the holiday multicultural events.”
“Learning about and celebrating events from other cultures and getting to know folks who have different backgrounds can make a difference.”
“In the community, fostering support for “mainstream” media to offering info about multicultural events, news, etc would be better, for example, than just publicizing such info among the “choir” so to speak.”
“More awareness and promoting other races in a positive light unlike the media!”
“People need to be educated about anyone that looks different or has a different lifestyle.”
“Poster campaigns all over Vermont, in general stores, quik-stops, poor and rich towns alike. Online education using social media. Developing programs to implement in schools and provide to schools and workplaces using some kind of grant funding.”
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